The Rev. Robert E. Daly Jr., who was rector of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Hamilton for two decades and earlier served several other Maryland parishes, died April 3 of cancer at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville.
The former Cub Hill resident was 82.
“During his time at Messiah, it was a very vibrant place and he was very involved in the local community, and spent his entire ministry in Maryland,” said former the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, who served as the Episcopal Bishop of Maryland from 1995 until his retirement in 2007.
“Bob was a fine man and a lovely priest, and was considerably outgoing and friendly,” he said. “He was well-loved at Messiah and always fun to work with.”
“Bob was a very kind person and he put in a lot of time here,” said Ann Vanneman, a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, and whose family have been active communicants there since the early 1930s. “He was always willing to meet people the way they were.”
Vince Vanneman, who married his wife, Ann, 47 years ago, has also been a longtime parishioner.
“What impressed me most about Bob was that he was a leader and stellar kind of guy,” he said. “He was special.”
Robert Edmund Daly Jr., who was born in Baltimore and raised in Bolton Hill and later in Walbrook Junction, was the son of Robert Edmund Daly Sr., a salesman, and his wife, Virginia Porter Daly, a homemaker.
Father Daly’s evolution into what became the Episcopal priesthood began when he was a young child.
“One of the mothers that my mother met took us to the Memorial Episcopal Church on Bolton Street, which is why I’m an Episcopalian,” Father Daly said in a talk he presented at Broadmead several years ago. “My father was a lapsed Roman Catholic, and my mother’s family were Methodists.”
After moving, Father Daly began attending Ascension and Prince of Peace Episcopal Church, which in those days was in Walbrook, and “became my second home,” he said.
“My ministry began as a young teen, as an acolyte and teaching Sunday school, and, within a few years running the Sunday school, as well as leading then Sunday service for families with children, and taking leadership in the youth programs and activities,” he said.
“We went to the same church in Walbrook and met at Sunday school,” said his future wife, the former Anne Elizabeth Limpert. “He was older than me and was Sunday school superintendent. I was just one of the brats who was always running around the church.”
He became an active member of the Grachur Club, where he worked summers, and after graduating in 1954 from Polytechnic Institute, he helped support his mother and sister.
Drafted into the Army, he was given a hardship discharge because of his family situation. He then went to work at Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. as a telephone customer representative.
With the financial help from several Grachur Club members, he was able to attend Johns Hopkins University, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1966.
“We reconnected at BGE, where I worked in the credit department,” his wife said, and fell in love.
They married in 1967 while he was attending the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Mass.
Ordained in 1970, he was called the next year to become rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hancock in Washington County.
He was assistant rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bethesda from 1973 to 1980, when he became rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish in Seat Pleasant.
In 1981 he was named rector of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in the 5800 block of Harford Road in Hamilton and remained in that position for the next two decades, until retiring in 2001.
“Bob was a very philosophical person who could roll with the punches and didn’t get down in the mouth about things,” said Bishop Ihloff, who first got to know Father Daly at seminary.
“He was a wonderful Christian who loved sharing his love of Christ with his people. It was an important part of his ministry,” he said.
“Bob was willing to listen to people from both sides, and even though he didn’t always agree, he’d listen to different opinions,” Mrs. Vanneman said. “Before he came to Messiah, we had two rectors who only stayed five years, and he stayed 20. We needed someone to stay and make that commitment, and he did.”
She added that “everyone remembers his wonderful laugh.”
“What impressed me was how he held together different factions of the church and what our theology should be,” Mr. Vanneman said. “He was a moderate who could hold people together and didn’t pick sides even though he had his own side.”
After leaving Messiah, Father Daly served for several years as Bishop Ihloff’s assistant at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where he was interim rector.
He was the former president of the Diocesan Standing Committee in Maryland, which was a “particular honor,” Bishop Ihloff said.
When he was a student at Poly, Father Daly was a member of the fabled Poly Follies, a theater group, and he liked bringing theatrical productions to his church, “because he wanted to open the world to people,” his wife said.
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He enjoyed music and was always humming a tune, family members said.
The quintessential Baltimorean, Father Daly liked patronizing several old landmark Harford Road businesses that were near his church.
He was a fan of Fenwick Bakery’s peach cake, sticky buns and other baked goods, sandwiches from the Mastellone Italian delicatessen, and eating lunch at Mueller’s German deli.
He was a world traveler and enjoyed driving across the the country.
A memorial service for Father Daly will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where he was a communicant.
In addition to his wife of 51 years, Father Daly is survived by a son, Erik Daly of Severna Park; a daughter, Sara Daly of Waverly; a sister, Jeanne Powell of Holt, Mich.; and four grandchildren.